The Ministry of Health has declared a cholera outbreak in Malakal PoCS, a Protection of Civilians site in South Sudan that houses over 30,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs). According to the latest figures from the ministry, 87 suspected cases and 10 deaths have occurred due to cholera in the camp since the outbreak was first reported in early March.
Cholera is a highly contagious bacterial disease that spreads through contaminated water or food. It causes severe diarrhea and vomiting, leading to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances that can be fatal if left untreated. Cholera outbreaks are common in South Sudan, where poor sanitation and limited access to clean water exacerbate the risk of transmission.
The Malakal PoCS camp, which is located in the Upper Nile region of South Sudan, has been struggling with inadequate water and sanitation facilities for years. The camp’s residents rely on a few boreholes and water tanks for their daily needs, but these sources are often contaminated and insufficient to meet the demand. The lack of toilets and waste management systems also contributes to the spread of diseases like cholera and diarrhea.
The declaration of a cholera outbreak in Malakal PoCS has raised concerns among aid agencies and health workers about the capacity to contain and treat the disease. The camp’s health center, run by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), has limited resources and personnel to handle a large-scale outbreak. The nearest hospital is also several kilometers away, making it difficult to transport patients in critical condition.
In response to the outbreak, the IOM and other humanitarian organizations have launched a series of interventions to prevent the spread of cholera and provide treatment to affected individuals. These include water chlorination, distribution of hygiene kits, and establishment of oral rehydration points. The IOM has also deployed additional staff and medical supplies to support the health center.
However, the situation in Malakal PoCS remains precarious, as the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions of the camp make it difficult to contain the disease. Aid agencies have called for urgent funding and support to improve the water and sanitation infrastructure in the camp and prevent future outbreaks of cholera and other waterborne diseases.
The cholera outbreak in Malakal PoCS is a stark reminder of the urgent need to address the root causes of the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. The ongoing conflict and displacement have created a dire situation for millions of people, with limited access to basic services and exposure to numerous health risks. It is imperative that the international community invests in long-term solutions to improve the living conditions of IDPs and support the country’s healthcare system.
In the short term, however, the priority is to contain the spread of cholera in Malakal PoCS and provide timely and effective treatment to those affected. The Ministry of Health, aid agencies, and local authorities must work together to ensure that all necessary measures are taken to prevent a further escalation of the outbreak and protect the lives of vulnerable communities.